Phil from Ely– 26 – Deaf, Mild Learning Difficulties
Passed in a manual car, January 2019, His first test with 0 Faults
I am completely deaf in my right ear and I have limited hearing in my left ear with the use of a hearing aid. This means that I rely a lot on lip reading. I also have mild learning difficulties which has led to some anxiety issues and a lack confidence.
I hope that learning to drive will improve my job prospects and give me greater independence. Although I wanted to learn to drive I was unsure if I wanted to at first, as didn’t feel I had the confidence to give driving a go. My family persuaded me to have a couple of lessons and see how I got on.
I started by doing an intensive driving course, but unfortunately didn’t pass my theory until my third attempt, which meant I couldn’t sit the practical driving test and do all of the necessary lessons. Looking back, although the people at the intensive driving course were great and helped me a lot, the long lessons were too much of challenge for me.
My Aunt Carol found Keiran through the Disability Drivers website. Carol rang and spoke to Keiran and explained the issues I have to see if Keiran thought he could help. Keiran started with an assessment of my driving and then we booked regular lessons. Once lessons started Keiran kept Carol updated on how I was doing. This helped us all as Carol could give feedback to both of us. Once Keiran was concerned if I could hear him properly and understood what he said, as he was worried I didn’t ask him anything. Carol spoke to me about this. I could hear and understand Keiran, but my lack of confidence meant I wasn’t communicating back to Keiran, as I should. Once Carol explained to me that Keiran needed to know how I was feeling, what questions I had and to tell him of any concerns I had, we made much more progress. It was useful that Keiran and Carol kept in touch as it sorted out any issues before they became a problem.
At the beginning of each lesson Keiran told me what we were going to do, so there were no surprises which helped with my anxieties and gave me more confidence. Before if I got things wrong I tended to beat myself up about it quite a lot, Keiran has helped me overcome this. He would get me to stop in a safe place and he would talk me through the mistake and work with my anxiety, helping me to stay focused. I would recommend Keiran to anyone especially someone who has special needs. He was always very friendly, patient and calm with me. He built up my confidence no end and helped me overcome any fears I had.
I would like to thank Keiran for his time, help and patience with teaching me to drive. I never once felt like giving up and enjoyed every lesson I had. I also enjoyed our football talk during my lessons. I am thrilled I have passed my test but shall miss my lessons and chats with Keiran. I never thought I would get through the test, especially on my first attempt and this is all thanks to Keiran’s support.
Phil came to me as a reasonable driver, with good basic car control and an understanding of driving routines and maneuvers. He was massively motivated to learn, but due to a lack of confidence the slightest mistake led to Phil getting incredibly frustrated with himself. This frustration actually caused us far more issues than his deafness did. Once he understood that making mistakes is a big part of learning to drive, and embraced learning from those mistakes, rather than beating himself up he made excellent progress.
Phil’s deafness only really caused issues on the move, when stationary Phil was able to fully concentrate on my voice and read my lips. Initially while Phil became used to my voice I had to use a mixture of voice commands and hand signals while driving. As Phil got used to the tone and pitch of my voice he picked up instruction much easier, allowing him to concentrate more with what was happening on the road. Phil cannot hear the engine note, so I needed to teach him to use the cars in-built gear shift indicator to help him to change up gears and to understand the speed each gear prefers to be used in so he knew which gear to select when changing down gears.
Once Phil had mastered the gears and was tuned in to my voice his driving progressed really well, and he had a very similar development curve to many of my pupils. The practical test was a huge challenge, having to deal with someone he didn’t know and a voice he wasn’t tuned into. He dealt with both of these so well. Phil asked me to sit in on his test to support him and it was a pleasure to watch Phil drive to such a high standard. The examiner worked brilliantly with him, only letting him carry out the next part of the test when she was sure Phil had understood what he was being asked to do. When it became clear to her that Phil was not picking up her voice at all well, she adapted the way she conducted the test. Phil passed his test first time with 0 minor driving faults, an amazing achievement for any driver, (Only 0.21% of candidates pass their driving test first time with 0 faults.*) To do that whilst overcoming the difficulty he had in communicating on test, as well as the normal test nerves was an inspirational show of determination but also of driving skill.
*DVSA test data published in 2011 for the financial year 2009/10